A Van Buren church was heavily damaged during a fire early Tuesday morning.
Current Outreach Church at 414 S. Fourth St. in Van Buren sustained massive fire, smoke and water damage Tuesday morning as Van Buren firefighters worked to put out a blaze that destroyed the church’s interior.
A call notifying first responders of the fire came in from a neighbor or passerby who saw the flames at about 2:16 a.m., said Stanley Clark, Van Buren Fire Department training staff officer. The church’s fire alarm also went off, Clark said.
Van Buren firefighters were on scene by 2:18, Clark said, and left at about 5:30 a.m. once the fire was extinguished.
"A sprinkler system helped us a lot," Clark said. "It didn’t help the church, but it helped keep the structure intact."
Water from the sprinklers and the firefighters caused even more damage than the fire, Clark said, destroying all the electronic equipment and wooden furniture in the sanctuary.
Cause of the fire still is under investigation, but Clark said they believe a space heater may have been the source.
"Maybe something fell against it or it fell over," Clark said.
The fire started in a small outbuilding and spread to the church.
Current Church’s pastor, Kevin Hardcastle, had mixed emotions about the fire, he said.
"It’s just a building, of course, [but] we’ve put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into it," Hardcastle said. "But it’s the body that’s the church, not the building. God must have a better plan for us. I have a real peace about it."
Hardcastle received a call informing him of the fire at about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday morning, he said.
"It’s not the kind of fire we want to have," Hardcastle said with a laugh. "We want to have fire [in the church], but not that kind."
Clark said the church building likely is not a total loss, and the front and frame of the building may be salvaged, but much of the roof and back end of the church will need to be replaced.
"They’ve got some pretty costly repairs, for sure," Clark said.
A number of church members wanting to show support were at the church Tuesday as Hardcastle waited for the insurance adjuster to arrive to give a damages cost estimate.
Though he is hoping that part of the building might be saved, Hardcastle said, "We’re going to walk by faith, not by sight."